Sainte Foy, France

Tarentaise Ski Safari

This 6-day ski safari discovers the wilder slopes of the beautiful Tarentaise region, much of which falls within the unspoilt beauty of the Vanoise National Park. The region is situated south of the Mont Blanc massif and just west of the Italian border and is host to one of the most extensive skiing areas in the world. Here there are seven major ski domains - from east to west these are: Val d’Isère, Tignes, Sainte Foy, Les Arcs, La Plagne, La Rosière and La Thuile. Our fully qualified IFMGA mountain guides will enable you to explore the most beautiful places within this incredible outdoor playground. We will aspire to ski the most spectacular off-piste itineraries and utilise the best snow conditions available to us.

The Tarentaise Ski Safari travels from east to west, beginning at the head of the valley in Val d’Isère and makes its way through Tignes, Sainte Foy, Les Arcs and Le Plagne. As with all our ski safaris this is a memorable journey and a continuously varied experience. We carry a day rucksack with the necessary kit for an overnight stay along with a share of essential group equipment. The Tarentaise Ski Safari is unique because it is possible - should one so wish - to complete it entirely using mechanical lifts with no ski touring necessary. Nonetheless, the trip is certainly challenging with a strong emphasis on fresh tracks and long descents! This really is a great mountain adventure.

We use a chalet in Sainte Foy resort run by our friends at the Auberge Sur La Montagne, Sue and Andy Mac. This provides a central location for accommodation where you can leave your bags in your rooms all week and return to the chalet on a number of occasions to change clothes and enjoy their great hospitality and food. They also provide the majority of resort transfers for us in their private minibus so transport to ski and back is done quickly and efficiently.

The course has a maximum of 6 in the group. This ensures you get lots of individual attention and time to learn and improve your skiing plus have a safer, more enjoyable experience on the mountain. And the course doesn't finish when the skiing stops: we do our best to ensure your group will really gel over the week making this ski safari a great mix of travel and après-ski!
 

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to Sainte Foy aiming to arrive by late afternoon. There'll be a welcome meeting and briefing before dinner. 

  • We travel up the valley to Val d'Isère and begin in Le Fornet. After a piste warm up make a decent of the ‘Pays Desert’ and then the classic ‘Col Pers’. We then head west, skiing through the extensive lift served terrain with the opportunity to ski the famous descents of: Face du Charvet, Solaise and La Vallée Perdue. Finally we cross over the Col de Fresse and down in to Tignes where we spend the night.

  • Today we explore and traverse this famous area and continue our journey from east to west. Numerous big backcountry descents await: The Fingers, Mickey's Ears, the Lavachet Wall and the Vallée de la Sache to name just a few. After lunch we take the Aiguille Percée chairlift and ski the remote and beautiful Vallon de la Sache which deposits us neatly at the furthest westerly point of Tignes, Tignes Les Brevieres.

  • Sainte Foy (pronounced ‘santfwah’) is the newest of the Tarentaise ski resorts. We aim to ski two classic descents which both pass through historic villages and are only accessible by skis. First we ski from the Foglietta to the ‘Monal’; this is a relatively gentle backcountry voyage exploring the east side of the main area. Second, we ski ‘Col Granier’, a long backcountry run eventually finishing in the village of La Masure. Both these trips, although not difficult, offer remote skiing in a stunning environment with historical interest.

  • The ski resort of Les Arcs is a vast and famous ski area with extensive backcountry skiing. We begin in the small village of Villaroger and make our way up through the lifts into the central part of the domain. A short walk leads to ‘Le Grand Col’. From here a remote 2,000m descent takes you all the way to the valley floor and back to Villaroger. Being NE-facing this area holds powder well, and what’s more, it lies in a nature reserve, where only guided parties are permitted. This is backcountry skiing at its best and is not to be missed. In the afternoon we take the double decker cable car to La Plagne, where we spend the night.

  • La Plagne is another huge domain with endless possibilities. Firstly we take the Roche de Mio chairlift and ski the bowl under le Tougne, which offers up mostly gentle off-piste. We then graduate to the famous North Face of the Bellecôte or we ski the Glacier of the Cul du Nant which presents a fantastic descent down to Champagny to meet up with the resort shuttle bus. This glacier acts like a giant fridge and conserves the powder well!

  • On our final day we stay in La Plagne as there is so much skiing to enjoy. If we have not skied the Cul du Nant the day before then we will ski this run today. There is also plenty of great tree skiing to enjoy around the lower resorts of 1800 and Aime. We return to Ste. Foy for the final night.

  • Depart after breakfast

2019

Dates

Price

Sat 02 Feb
- Sat 09 Feb
£1595 Enquire

The price includes 6 guided days with all guide fees and expenses, 7 nights half-board accommodation (twin rooms), luggage transfers
The price does not include uplift costs, lunches and equipment hire

We exclude the cost for any transfers and uplift because our use of these is to a certain extent dependent on weather and snow conditions. Based on previous trips the cost of transfers and uplift for this week will be approximately €250 per person.

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This page is an extensive list of the equipment you will need for one of our multi-day ski safaris,.
During the trip you will be staying in a mix of catered high mountain huts and valley hotels.
On some of the safaris we do provide luggage transfers (e.g. Courchevel-Chamonix) but on most you will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets, dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear.
Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.
We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

Please remember that it is very important to travel light on the hut ski-tour and weight should be kept down to approx. 8-10kg. It will be possible to leave some baggage at the valley hotel.

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply suitable kit.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than a insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer with cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.

    Skis
    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com 
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com  
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com  
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us 
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    Boots
    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:
    • a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • a built-in rain cover an a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.

     

    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
    • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
    • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    Food and Water
    We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
    If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
    You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.

  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe
    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
  • On our ski safaris we do use the lift systems in resorts to gain height before heading off into the back country on a tour. You will need to have:
    Ski Skins – these are skins, now made of artificial fabric, that stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    Ski Crampons (aka couteaux in French) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons.
    Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminium ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some safaris in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.

  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.
Ste Foy.jpg

Sainte Foy

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Sainte Foy-Tarentaise (to give it its full name) is a small village just off the main road up to Val d’Isère. The ski area and small resort is another 5 kms away and boasts some of the best off-piste ski terrain in the Alps.

For years it has remained relatively unknown - particularly when compared to its more renowned neighbours of Tignes, Val d'Isère, Les Arcs & La Plagne. Its reputation as an off piste ski area has grown and grown... what was just a Mountain Tracks secret for a while has started to leak out! That said, it remains unspoiled and still offers amazing skiing! Situated just below the famous Espace Killy (Tignes & Val d'Isère) in the heart of the Savoie region and fast building itself as a haven for off-piste skiers.

Sainte Foy boasts superb snow quality, unparalleled tree skiing and is never crowded. Groups will roam the terrain around Sainte Foy itself, Tignes, Val d'Isère, La Rosière and the twin resorts of Les Arcs & La Plagne - all of which provide extensive off-piste descents.

Our top reasons for visiting Sainte-Foy:
  • Small resort but revered by many for the quality of the off-piste skiing
  • Easy access to other world-class resorts: Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Plagne
  • Very good snow record and skiing until mid-April
  • Some of the best day tours and ski safari itineraries anywhere in the Alps
  • North facing slopes mean good conditions remain after most other resorts are tracked out

Resort Height: 1,550m

Highest Lift: 2,650m

Nearest Airport: Geneva or Chambery

Transfer Options: Geneva is a 2.5-3hr transfer by road. Our accommodation provider offer return airport transfers at fixed times (included in the price of our week-long trips at the Auberge), please contact our office to ask more about these transfers. Otherwise, you can get to the resort by road transfer with one of the many companies who offer seats bookable on a shared basis. There is also a public bus service to Bourg St. Maurice and Sainte Foy with Alti bus. If you are travelling from Chambery airport you can take a train to Bourg St. Maurice and link to the resort with a taxi or bus.

It is also possible to travel by train to Bourg Saint Maurice (with a Eurostar direct day service from London St. Pancras to Bourg Saint Maurice on Saturdays throughout the ski season. Timetables and bookings are available at Eurostar. Bourg St Maurice is only 10km from the chalet and the train offers a viable alternative to a flight and transfer. The chalet hosts provide a twice-daily pick-up and drop-off service at the station.

Auberge sur la Montagne is our accommodation provider in Sainte Foy, run by Sue & Andy Mac and a team of very efficient and friendly staff.

The Auberge sur la Montagne has 8 ensuite bedrooms which have all have been renovated over the past few years and offer a modern contemporary feel. There is a comfortable lounge, bar, outdoor hot tub, sauna, TV room and extensive in-house ski hire all available in the Auberge.

Chalet Laperin and Montagnard are situated just 50 metres from the slopes of Sainte Foy resort, so are virtually ski-in, ski-out. Both offer sensational views across the Tarentaise valley, so you’ll enjoy your meals eye to eye with the Aiguille Rouge and Mont Pourri mountains.

Laperin is being newly renovated for the 2018-19 season to offer 4 ensuite bedrooms, comfortable living room with fireplace, stunning views from the large floor to ceiling windows, and sauna to relax in after a hard day on the slopes. Meals will be served for the whole group in Laperin.

Montagnard also has large floor to ceiling windows, large balconies and living room with log fire. It offers 4 bedrooms, 2 with ensuite shower rooms, and 2 rooms sharing a bathroom.
All the accommodation has free internet access and UK Satellite TV.

Meals are provided by the full-time chefs who will give you a fine dining experience on 6 evenings. Breakfast is served as a buffet style and there is afternoon tea and cake available each day on your return from the slopes.

Auberge & Chalets sur la Montagne maintain a good stock of rental skis and boots suitable for off-piste skiing and ski touring. These will be fitted by their qualified, experience ski techs in the comfort of your accommodation on your arrival evening. We do recommend that you reserve skis and boots in advance, so please contact our office for details.

  • Insurance

    It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • Travel to Ste Foy

    Sainte Foy is accessible by road, rail and air.

    The nearest airport is Chambery with a 90 minute transfer time. Geneva and Lyon are both about 2½ hours away.

    The chalet hosts provide group transfers to/from Geneva airport, which are included in the cost of the holiday (minimum 4 people per transfer).  We meet at 2pm at Geneva airport on the arrival day so you should arrive on a flight no later than 1.15pm; on the departure day we ask you to book a flight that leaves Geneva airport no earlier than 2pm so there is time to travel to the airport. 

    It is also possible to travel by train to Bourg Saint Maurice (with a Eurostar direct day service from London St. Pancras to Bourg Saint Maurice on Saturdays throughout the ski season. Timetables and bookings are available at Eurostar. Bourg St Maurice is only 10km from the chalet and the train offers a viable alternative to a flight and transfer. The chalet hosts provide a twice-daily pick-up and drop-off service at the station.

    Check with our office for detailed travel arrangements.

  • Ski Touring - Guides

    All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks. 

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